Space Shuttle Columbia

Nine years ago today, the Space Shuttle Columbia burst into flames as it re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere after 16 days in orbit. All seven crew members lost their lives, and the debris from the craft was scattered across hundreds of miles. NASA diligently collected all the fragments that were found, and they are now stored […]

Science Behind the Photo #35

Shuttle landings Perhaps unsurprisingly, the space shuttle takes off like a rocket. The orbiter has rocket  boosters in addition to its main engines, which are used for launch before they detach and drop back down to Earth – these falling boosters are strategically aimed towards the ocean, so they land relatively unharmed and can be […]

Manned Shuttles – A Waste of Space?

On Friday the shuttle Atlantis will lift off on its final voyage, when it returns it will mean the end of NASA’s iconic space shuttle programme. The shuttle’s retirement also signals the beginning of an uncertain time for human space missions. Funding cuts and plan cancellations mean that there is currently no replacement for NASA’s manned […]

Breathing life into spaceplane technology

The dream of spaceplanes has often been dismissed as fantasy, born out of bad 1950s science fiction films. According to most industry analysts, the rightful place of the spaceplane – along with food pills, floating cities and personal jetpacks – is consigned to the dustbin of history. However, one small company in Britain doesn’t seem […]

Space Ageing

This week, the Space Shuttle Endeavour returned to Earth for the final time. Following this mission, NASA plans to send only one more shuttle into orbit. It will then retire its ageing shuttle fleet after a total of 135 spaceflights. For many, this decision is long overdue. Running a space agency is a very expensive business […]

Space Shuttle Columbia

On 1st February 2003, I arrived home from school with my younger brother, just as usual. We turned on the TV and there it was, the news was on every channel. This had happened once before, on 11th September, 2001 and that had changed the whole world in a dramatic way. In hindsight, the repercussions from the Columbia […]

Space Shuttle Challenger

Continuing from the last two weeks’ blogs, the topic for today’s entry is the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster. Around three weeks ago, memorials were held to coincide with the 25th anniversary of this tragedy, with large crowds turning up at the site of the disaster in Cape Canaveral. On Tuesday 28th January 1986, Challenger launched. However, […]

Lost in Space

Friday 28th January this year marked the 25th anniversary of the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster. However, the Challenger disaster was neither the first, nor the last, time lives have been lost in the quest to explore John F. Kennedy’s “new ocean”. With NASA preparing to retire its shuttle fleet soon, perhaps now is a suitable […]